Everything old is art again
Recycled materials — cashmere, lenses, wood — play a big role in Style 2010 show and sale
Sorting out bottles and cans from the trash? Anyone can do that. Heidi Paul recycles cashmere.
No, there's not a new curbside bin for goat wool. Paul is a fiber artist who gives a fresh spin to second-hand sweaters: cutting them up, often re-dying them, and pinning and stitching the cashmere into new pieces of clothing.
"I've always been interested in recycling — I'm also the youngest of four kids, so I got all the hand-me-down clothes," Paul said. And, she added, she's following a tradition of reusing fashion. "Coco Chanel was doing it way back in the day, tailoring men's clothes to fit women."
Paul, whose studio is in San Francisco, is one of the artists new to the annual Style event this year. Held at the Palo Alto Art Center on Saturday, April 24, Style 2010 will feature about 35 artists showing and selling their creations of clothing, jewelry and accessories. The event is in its sixth year and benefits children's art-education programs at the center.
True to form in green Palo Alto, several of the artists use recycled materials. Emiko Oye, for instance, revamps LEGO blocks into jewelry, while Eric Silva's "wearable sculpture" often incorporates recycled wood and shed antlers. Antique Japanese textiles become the pockets of Gabriel Russo's menswear.
Besides Heidi Paul, another San Francisco artist new to Style this year is Kelly Nedderman, who comes bearing pendants, earrings and bracelets. Her jewelry uses not only her handmade paper but also second-hand camera and glasses lenses, and antique buttons.
Some of the pendants particularly show her affinity for rich texture: Ovals of paper have speckles made by silkscreening, while the lenses placed on top magnify the patterns and add curves. The pendants are set in oxidized sterling silver.
"The glow comes from the lens, and the light bounces around in there really nicely," Nedderman said.
Nedderman has long enjoyed using found objects from thrift shops and garage sales. Glasses with thick Coke-bottle lenses or vintage tints catch her eye.
"They have their own stories," she said of the lenses. "As soon as you take them out of the frames, people don't realize that they're glasses lenses. And it brings people into the piece a little more. The novelty creates an experience."
Other novel pieces include "really crazy cocktail rings," big ones with antique buttons. Nedderman is also experimenting with her handmade paper, adding different pigments and acrylics for texture.
A 2004 graduate of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Nedderman calls her life "a mixed bag of tricks." Besides working in her home studio, she teaches jewelry and metal arts at the university and at The Crucible in Oakland. She also does freelance design for Old Navy and other apparel companies, designing plaids, florals and other prints.
Typically, Nedderman's customers find her work through galleries or the Internet. Most of them are women. "It takes a very comfortable guy to go ahead and wear a bracelet," she said. "My fiance can pull it off."
Style 2010 is the first big retail show for Nedderman. For Heidi Paul, this is also a rare trip down the Peninsula to present her art.
She has to think of the weather when showing cashmere. Since it's warmer than in San Francisco, she said: "I am building a lot of inventory that has short sleeves, tank tops, lighter cashmere. Different grades and different weights."
When she dyes the cashmere, Paul often uses a Japanese shibori technique that incorporates patterns, frequently of rectangles and circles. She finds something "very basic and comforting" in repeating patterns.
Each piece is one-of-a-kind, said Paul, a fulltime artist and teacher with a degree in fiber and book arts from the Oregon College of Art and Craft. "My background is in craft, not in fashion. Even if I wanted to try a production line, I couldn't, because it's not in my nature."
Paul's goal is for each piece to find the right home, which can be challenging with such distinctive clothing. If a piece doesn't sell for over a year, she might cut it up and redesign it.
Paul will also bring hand-felted wool hats to Style. Designs include more classic cloches as well as lively spiral and stovepipe shapes. She's been felting since 1995 and says she loves the sculptural aspect of the art, starting with fleece and then working it with her hands. She finishes a hat with a lining of grosgrain ribbon.
Hats are a harder sell than sweaters, she acknowledges. The more whimsical designs do best in New York, where she sees more competition for being originally dressed. In general, she noted, "You kind of have to be an extrovert to wear a hat."
What: Style 2010, a show and sale of original clothing, jewelry and accessories by about 35 artists
Where: Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road
When: Saturday, April 24, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: Admission is $10 general and free for members of the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation.
Info: Go to www.paacf.org or call 650-329-2366.